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Reid Magney: Mistakes no local candidate should make

Whether you’re a veteran officeholder or first-time candidate, it’s never easy to raise your hand and ask the voters to “Pick me.”


But if you’re going to do it, now is the time. Candidates for local offices have until Jan. 2 to gather signatures and file the necessary paperwork to get their names on the ballot for the Spring Election.

Getting on the ballot isn’t hard, but it takes some legwork and attention to detail. If you decide to run for office, don’t make things any harder on yourself or your supporters by neglecting details that could keep you off the ballot.

Here are the key things candidates need to know about getting on the ballot and getting to Election Day without running afoul of the rules.

Your first step should be to get one of the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s checklists: We have customized checklists for candidates for county, municipal and school district offices which will let you know what you need to do to get your name on the ballot.

The first item on the checklist is to file a Campaign Registration Statement (Form ETHCF-1) with the local filing officer (your county, city, village, town or school district clerk).

The second is the Declaration of Candidacy Form, known as the EL-162 for most candidates and the EL-162sd for school board candidates. You can get it from your local clerk’s office, or you can download it from our website: That form requires only a few pieces of information about who you are, what office you’re seeking and where you live.

The third form – the one that trips up some candidates – is the EL-169, Nomination Paper for Nonpartisan Office. This is the petition form you or your supporters need to circulate for signatures of people who support putting your name on the ballot.

The most important part of this form is the header. Make a mistake here by forgetting to fill in the election date or your address, and it could invalidate entire pages of signatures and risk dropping below the required minimum number of signatures.

One incumbent mayor or a supporter forgot to put his mailing address on three petition pages, which invalidated 28 of the 223 signatures he submitted, bringing him just below the 200 required signatures.

In another case, a school board candidate turned in petitions with 106 signatures, but failed to include the election date in the header on two of the pages, which resulted in a challenge that cost her 16 signatures and brought her below the required 100 signatures.

So, always make sure you have enough signatures because you never know what problems might occur. Your clerk will tell you both the minimum number of signatures you need and the maximum you can submit.

When you or your supporters are circulating your papers, pay attention to how people fill in their information. You need both a signature and a legibly printed name in addition to the person’s address.

When you have all your paperwork together, your next step is to file. Do not dally! For the 2018 Spring Election, the deadline to have your original paperwork at the clerk’s office is no later than 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. If a sick child or heavy traffic means you’re late by even one minute, you’re out of luck. Faxing and emailing don’t count.

Along the way to the primary on Feb. 20 and the election on April 3, you will need to file campaign finance reports with your local clerk’s office.

When you and your supporters go door-to-door, don’t leave campaign literature in people’s mailboxes if they’re not home. The Post Office frowns on it, and somebody may complain.

Yard signs are another potentially sticky area, especially if you and your supporters put them near a polling place. In Wisconsin, it’s against the law to electioneer within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling place on Election Day. It’s legal to be just outside that radius, but I guarantee you it will generate a complaint to the clerk, the police or the Elections Commission.

When Election Day finally arrives, don’t wear campaign hats, shirts or buttons when you go to vote. And don’t linger around the polling place to avoid being accused of electioneering.

That’s it. Get yourself a candidate checklist and follow these rules, and you’ll be able to focus on the campaign and the issues, not distractions that could cost you the election.

Mark Neumann: Don't relinquish good governance

It appears that Congress will pass a tax bill that the president will sign into law.

This legislation promises to substantially increase our national debt. This will ultimately result in the need to cut expenditures.

What benefits of good governance can be done away with? What goods for our national community are not worthy of being paid for?

What benefits can people who govern themselves give up? Clean and safe drinking water? It's essential.

Transportation systems and safe roads available to all? Not discretionary.

Twenty-first century access to broadband and open internet? Must have.

Good education through college for all children and respect for their teachers? A fundamental need for every society.

Advancement of science and research? Needed for sure.

Health care for all? An absolute benefit.

Old-age security and a tranquil life for our elders? It's only fair.

Care for our mother earth and our environment? We need to do this for those who will follow us.

We cannot give up these things, and there is no need to do so. But these benefits of good governance are not free. They must be paid for. And there is no reason for us to do so on credit.

Good governance of the people, by the people and for the people is able to do all of these things and more. We choose for ourselves because we govern ourselves.

Mark Neumann, La Crosse

Catherine Rampell: Bemoaning the death of populism

Populism, RIP.

It croaked on a birthday of sorts. This month marks 10 years since the Great Recession — and thereby the social movement it unleashed — was born.

Catherine Rampell

This obituary begins in December 2007, when the spark of the financial crisis grew into a fire. The conflagration would go on to blaze through more than 8 million jobs, trillions of dollars in wealth, millions of foreclosed homes and half the value of the stock market.

Older and middle-age workers would lose jobs and nest eggs. Younger workers would get stuck in dead-end careers, if they could find careers at all, and fall behind on milestones of adulthood such as homeownership and marriage.

And millions of children would grow up watching their parents stress about money. Some would come to wonder whether socialism was really such a dirty word after all.

Amid disillusionment with elites, resentment of “banksters” and their garish bonuses, and furor with regulators who let the crisis happen and then held no one — but no one — truly accountable, a populist fever erupted.

For some, this populism took a decidedly leftist strain.

The Occupy Movement demanded a pound of flesh from Wall Street, as well as an entirely new social contract. You can draw a straight line between those who camped in Zuccotti Park in 2011 and the broader movement that last year agitated for single-payer health care, free college and other forms of economic redistribution.

Plenty of other populists broke right.

Like their socialist brethren, these populists hated Wall Street bailouts, but they hated handouts going to their undeserving neighbors even more. They asked: Why should their mortgages be written off, when my home is also underwater? Why should they get food stamps, when I struggle to put dinner on the table? Why should they get free health care when I’m living paycheck to paycheck?

Many increasingly concluded that the answers were some version of: because they don’t look like me.

I cannot tell you how many of the unemployed workers I interviewed during the recession and its aftermath blamed their inability to find work on employers’ supposed favoritism of the young (if they themselves were old) or of the old (if they were young), of men (if they were women), of women (if they were men) and of the nonwhite (if they were white).

Of course, the main reason these workers couldn’t get a job was that there weren’t enough jobs to be gotten. With the economic pie no longer growing, every paltry slice was in dispute.

Those on the populist, anti-establishment left eventually found a savior in a socialist senator from Vermont. The populist, anti-establishment right chose a billionaire con artist. Both leaders vowed to deliver policies that would reward their acolytes and punish entrenched special interests.

In the end, only those on the populist right successfully took over a major political party, and later the country.

But what did they win, really? Did they get the great economic de-rigging they demanded? A fair shake for good, wholesome folk like themselves? The draining, at last, of the swamp?


Instead, a week ago, the Trump administration began dismantling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a post-financial crisis creation designed specifically to protect the little guy from scam artists and swamp creatures.

And then, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, the Senate passed the most plutocratic, regressive, system-rigging piece of tax legislation in decades. A bill that allows multimillionaires to pass on their estates tax-free. That offers one special break to owners of private jets and another to those who send their kids to private school.

A bill that literally takes from the poor to give to the rich.

These are not policies that either left-wing or right-wing populists clamored for, and you can see as much in the poll data. The Republican tax plan is the most unpopular piece of major tax legislation in five decades, less popular even than the Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush tax hikes.

Republicans know how unpopular it is, and they just don’t care.

Instead, they expect the populist right to be satisfied with some race-baiting tweets. Some mean-spirited, occasionally unconstitutional immigration policies. The satisfaction of having a president who makes liberals angry.

Instead of bread, the populists are told to be grateful for their circuses.

Yes, friends. Populism, at least as a political force capable of extracting meaningful policy concessions, is truly, officially, undeniably dead. The time of its demise: Saturday, Dec. 2, a little before 2 a.m.